Updated on June 13, 2015
Ecuador: The Middle of the World
The equator runs through Ecuador and is what gives the country its’ name. So of course, there is a tourist area for people to come see the center of the world.
Mitad del Mundo is the name of the monument and area that the monument for the equator is located. It is a 40-45 minute bus ride-about $.45 (or you can take a taxi-at least $10) from the Ofelia station in northern Quito. (All taxi drivers also know both where the monument is and the bus station-so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.)
Once at the middle of the world, you must pay an entrance fee for foreigners, nationals, or students-so if you have a just a passport or a student I.D. make sure to bring it. After you enter, there is a maze of shops and restaurants to walk through. These are generally fairly expensive and touristy, but tasty. The food is typical ecuadorian, including empanadas, cuy (guinea pig), ice creams, churrasco (thin steak with fried eggs on top), and fish prepared in all different ways.
The monument itself is a gigantic concrete tribute to the team of scientists who found the middle of the world using astronomical methods in the 1700s. The team was comprised of scientists from all over the world-including Spain, France, Germany and Ecuador. The monument has a letter on each of its’ 4 sides describing the direction in which that side is pointing as well as an entrance. Here, you can climb to the top of the monument and look down upon the little town around the middle of the world.
Actually, the monument to the middle of the world is not on the equator. Oops, but it was the 1700s. The real monument is in the planetarium about 100 meters or so away-so really they got very close. To the left of the monument (as you are facing it while you walk in) there is a host of buildings. These are different small museums depicting the methods used to find the equator, the different countries involved and the planetarium.
The cost to get into the planetarium is minimal (around $5) if there are 14 people all together who want to see the show. If there are less than 14 people, it is much more expensive (around $30-$40 for the group smaller than 14). This way each time they run the show they are doing it for more than just a few people. The show that they put on is also all in Spanish without an English version. The planetarium does show some neat things though, such as how an egg can balance on its’ end-so it is definitely worth the extra money if you have a large enough group.
The shops at Mitad del Mundo offer similar, but sometimes different goods. There are a bunch of shops when you first enter the monument area and then also behind the monument. They offer lots of t-shirts in both Spanish and English, sweaters, jewelry, hammocks, soccer jerseys, backpacks, monument trinkets and lots of other goods. Most shops have fairly similar goods with some variation as to say, the colors in the sweater, but the pricing varies greatly. Also make sure to bargain with the seller!
The best day to go visit Mitad del Mundo is on Sunday. Sundays there is generally some performer such as a singer or folk dancers and most people that go to visit go on Sundays. There are more crowds, but also better options as the performance is good and free, the shops and restaurants are all open and many Ecuadorian families go to spend the day there together.
Mitad del Mundo is one of the tourist places that all tourists to Ecuador must go. It has the feel of indigenous Ecuador between the fold dancers on Sundays and the little shops where bartering is essential. Mitad del Mundo is a fantastic and enjoyable day trip to the center of the world!